January 19 2018
Oregon lawmakers have approved a bill to slash coal-fired power in their state, a measure hailed by environmentalists as a major victory in the fight against climate change.
The legislation would have ratepayers for the state's two largest utilities stop paying for power produced at out-of-state coal plants by 2030 and set a renewable energy standard of 50 percent by 2040.
Oregon House lawmakers approved the bill on a near-party-line vote on Tuesday, The Oregonian reports, and senators did the same on Wednesday night. The bill came after consultation with the affected utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. Its supporters say it will protect ratepayers in the long run as renewable energy prices fall.
"Decisions are being made by utilities right now about what kind of energy powers our future," Democratic Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson said, according to The Oregonian. "We know that the cost of coal is increasing and the cost of renewables is going down."
Republicans had opposed the bill, saying it would raise prices for ratepayers. Republican members of the state Senate refused to attend a session last week, denying Democrats the quorum required to move forward with the bill, but members eventually approved the measure on Wednesday.
Gov. Kate Brown (D) has praised the bill and is likely to sign it.
Green groups hailed the legislation this week.
"We don't have the luxury of waiting to address climate change, and actions like this legislative victory in Oregon show the world that we are still on track to meet our climate goals and act to protect our families and our communities," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
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